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Sam Tuttle

prospective student looking into flight training

Are You Fit to Fly?

Recreational pilots, know the basics of FAA medical certificates

Among the more common questions we receive from aspiring pilots are ones about FAA medical certification. For all prospective students looking into flight training, the medical certificate is the one thing that can end a flying career before it begins.

Who needs it

When to get it

  • The FAA suggests you receive it before beginning flight training.
  • Their rationale is hard to argue with: “This will alert you to any condition that would prevent you from becoming a pilot before you pay for lessons.”
  • Renewal periods for your FAA medical certificate are every 24 months, or 60 months if under age 40.

How to get it

What it costs

  • Getting a 3rd class medical certificate often costs between $200 and $250.
  • The FAA does not play any role in determining the fees, and cost variations depend on where you live.
  • Special issuance medical exams are used for specific health conditions and may cost more.
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Getting Your Private Pilot’s License: 5 Cost and Time Factors

How to attend a Minnesota flight school, save money, and stay on course

When aspiring pilots in the Twin Cities area talk to us about flight training and earning their PPL, we consistently start by telling them that planning makes all the difference.

Here’s why:

  1. It forces you to look realistically at what’s involved
  2. It alerts you to efficiencies in time and resource management
  3. Planning lays the groundwork for the habits that produce good pilots.

But planning is just the beginning. As you select a flight school in Minnesota to earn your PPL, there are other things to remember. Here are the ones we at Twin Cities Flight think are important.

  1. Break down the total time required. The Federal Aviation Administration states that a minimum of 40 hours of flight time is required, and that the total average number of hours it takes to complete PPL certification requirements is 75. Make sure you understand the time commitment to working with an instructor, doing solo flight time, cross country flight time, night flying time, and instrument time. For each hour of flight training, you should spend 2-3 hours self-studying the ground training.
  2. Simulators can reduce expenses. Today’s simulators can reduce the cost of instrument training by 20-25% – and give you the experience of practicing emergency events and circumstances that would not be possible in an aircraft. NOTE: Twin Cities Flight uses the advanced Redbird MCX Flight Simulator. See what it can do.
  3. Aircraft rental and Instructor costs. The discussion about PPL costs never stops, but we want to touch on two key variables. 1. Airplane rental. This can be 50% of the cost of your flight training, so allocate resources accordingly. Learning on planes with analog instruments can save money, as can flight simulators (see above). 2. In our experience, students who “get” their instructors seem to learn more efficiently (it makes sense), so spend some time finding an instructor who fits your personality and learning style. Time, once again, is money.
  4. Wet vs Dry costs. Simply put, a “wet” aircraft rental is one that includes fuel (and oil), whereas “dry” agreements do not. Wet rentals offer convenience and time savings. Dry rentals are generally less costly, but may require separate payment for fuel, crew (if necessary), maintenance and insurance. Do the math and have a detailed discussion with your flight school about their agreements. Don’t get pressured into making a decision until you’re ready.
  5. Make written exams a priority. Many up-and-coming pilots focus on flight training at the expense of test prep. Online study tools and practice tests can be useful, but we believe there’s value in formal ground school coursework. Online study materials may give you general knowledge, but one-on-one instruction with our instructors can give you Minnesota specific knowledge on weather, airports, and flight characteristics. Last piece of advice: It’s a good idea to stay current with FAA exam changes.

Getting your PPL from a Minnesota flight school starts with choosing the right flight training center. Consider Twin Cities Flight. We’re ready whenever you are.

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The Discovery Flight

What to look for in your first demo flight at a Minnesota flight school

It’s safe to say that anyone considering a Private Pilot License (PPL) at a Minnesota flight school has an inner attraction to aviation and the experience of flight. Some want to fly purely for pleasure, while others are looking for a career path. That’s why there are 7 pilot license types for everyone from students to Certified Flight Instructors.

Regardless of your reason for getting a PPL, the experience starts with a “demo flight.” Our perspective on demo flights is that they are too often a cookie-cutter experience, which is why we offer 1st-timers a Discovery Flight.

We chose that name because discovery is what the early stages of your PPL planning and research are all about: discovering your own experience of becoming a certified pilot.

Discovery Flights at Twin Cities Flight

Here’s what to look for and expect when you book a Discovery Flight.

Spending time in an aviation environment. Discovery Flight students can meet faculty, staff, and other students as part of the experience. You’ll also have time to learn the layout of the flight school, see the facilities and the planes that are used for instruction. Aviation schools each have their own environment, and the tone is set by the people on site. We make sure you get a sense of ours.

Talking with an instructor. Before going up, you can expect to spend some time with the instructor in charge of your visit. He or she will go over preflight prep; be ready with questions, because our instructors have more knowledge and experience ready to share than any website or book. Also, our instructors are not salespeople. Their job is to teach, share experiences, and find out what you want to accomplish during your Discovery Flight.

Getting initial instruction. Your Discovery Flight instructor will be trying to understand and respect your expectations and your comfort level in the plane. A Discovery Flight experience will include: taxi and takeoff, straight and level flight, turns, climbs, descents, stalls, entering the traffic pattern, and landing. You’ll certainly be invited to take the controls; many first timers are apprehensive about spinning, rolling, and loss of control. They quickly find out this is not a concern as they get a feel for the plane’s responsiveness and the instructor’s calm presence and instruction. Your instructor will also handle 100% of radio communication so you can focus on the experience.

Following up and following through. After your Discovery Flight, most up-and-coming pilots want more – more information, more instruction, more flight time. We can connect you with all of it. But we are equally ready to simply sit down and debrief with you on your experience. We can identify your strengths and areas where you’ll need to work. We can advise you on how to get your PPL, how much it will cost, and the best way to approach it.

Less than 1% of all people in the the U.S. earn a Private Pilot License. But if you’re looking for a premier Minnesota flight school, consider Twin Cities Flight. Schedule your Discovery Flight today.

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Why is the Cessna 172 so popular?

Why flight schools in Minnesota (and everywhere else) fly the 172

Anyone who’s involved in aviation knows that only a few aircraft in history have become iconic, and in the world of flight training, the Cessna 172 certainly belongs in the discussion.

It’s simple but solid, balanced, and stable. It can squeeze in 4 passengers, and above all, it’s reliable. Those are a few reasons why, after 60 years, more pilots have earned their Private Pilot’s License in a 172 than any other plane.

If you’re receiving flight training in Minnesota, you are probably already familiar with the Cessna 172. But for those who are still new to the pursuit of flight, let’s take a closer look at what makes the Cessna 172 so good as a training aircraft.

  1. Wing position. The high wing position gives beginner pilots a clear view of the ground and improves situational awareness in general and landing in particular.
  2. Easy to land. According to legend, Cessna’s Marketing Department called the Cessna 172 the “land-o-matic.” Indeed, this Cessna is known to be forgiving to new pilots learning to land, and it can handle many landings per hour. The “tricycle” landing gear makes the aircraft very straightforward to land and eliminates the need to remember to lower landing gear.
  3. Adequate power. In the words of aviationconsumer, “Let’s be real – the 172 isn’t a speedster.” Yet pilots and instructors alike say the 172 has plenty of power for takeoffs and cruising. The engine, a Lycoming IO-360, has evolved from a carbureted to a fuel-injected version, which then removes the possibility of carb ice.
  4. Safety. By any measure, the Cessna 172 has an admirable safety record, boasting an accident rate around half of the industry average. But we have to point out that safety is a function of multiple factors, aircraft reliability is just one.
  5. Avionics. Newer glass-cockpit 172s are equipped with the Garmin G3X Touch avionics suite, known for its advanced training capabilities. It’s worth noting that “traditional” instrument configurations cost less to rent, and that there’s a strong contingent of pilots out there who believe that there’s nothing wrong with learning fundamentals on “steam gauge” instruments before moving on to more advanced tech. Talk to your flight school instructors about the advantages of each option.

When reviewing your flight school options in Minnesota, consider Twin Cities Flight. We have a Cessna 172 with your name on it, ready for your Discovery Flight.

Ready to start flying?

Schedule your Discovery Flight

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Twin Cities Flight provides you direct CFI access to have your questions answered. You may want to know more about training prices, aircraft rental, training schedules, pilot certificates, or simply what your next steps should be. Drop us a line and we will have you cleared for take-off!

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